While attending a chemistry course at Colégio Notre Dame during the summer of 2013, I realized two things: 1.) chemical equations remain incomprehensible to me in any language and 2.) Brazilian high school students enjoy passing notes and doodling on their papers just as much as their American counterparts. Such groundbreaking discoveries were made possible by a Summer Language Abroad grant offered by the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures. Although I may not have come out of the experience a scientific prodigy, I did successfully improve my Portuguese through three months of fruitful immersion.
Summer breaks are excellent opportunities to learn new skills and explore different career fields. With the conclusion of the semester in sight, many students have already made plans to make the next couple of months a productive period of personal growth.
“Over summer break, I will be on campus participating in research at the Center for Nano Science and Technology,” Brian Buechler said. “The focus of the project is to create polymer nanofibers with high thermal conductivity.”
As a Mechanical Engineering student, Brian recognizes the value of applied research towards his professional career goals. Notre Dame is home to a variety of campus institutes and programs dedicated to providing students with undergraduate research experience. Brian is looking forward to discovering the potential use of the fibers for metal replacement in heat transfer devices. “I am very excited about this project since it will be my first research experience, and I am hopeful that it will help me decide if I want to pursue a graduate degree after my senior year.”
Eric Villalpando, a junior French major, is striving to complement his language study with commercial experience. He will be spending the summer in Dallas as an assistant buyer at Neiman Marcus Group. “Throughout the course of this internship, I will be given the opportunity to collaborate with other talented interns to craft innovative solutions to real world challenges faced by this luxury retailer,” Eric said. “Additionally, through exposure to all levels of corporate management, I will learn how to develop and maintain professional work relations, not only with fellow interns, but with top level executives.”
During his current semester abroad in Angers, France, Eric has been able to enhance his knowledge about other countries via extensive travel and cultural immersion. He hopes to expand his horizons even further by broadening his College of Arts and Letters education with exposure to the commercial industry. “I am particularly excited to put my liberal arts analytical and communication skills to work in a business setting, an opportunity that I have not yet had.”
Volunteer work continues to be a popular summer activity for many students. The Center for Social Concerns organizes several initiatives to encourage community service. After spending a few days at home babysitting her newborn niece, Jessica Pedroza, a sophomore Political Science major, will be participating in the International Summer Service Learning Program in Cochabamba, Bolivia. With a minor in Poverty Studies, she intends to use her Catholic social teaching background to share in the life of a developing nation. “I can't wait to immerse myself in a new culture, practice my Spanish, and be of some service to kids at a school [conducted by] La Casa del Migrante.”
Having spent an ISSLP summer in Brazil, I enjoyed the chance to work alongside individuals committed to policy development and civil rights issues facing migrants. The program is especially useful for individuals interested in exploring ethnic environments different from their own. Jessica plans to travel through Bolivia and Peru in addition to her volunteer work.
“I hope that this international experience will help me to think more concretely about what kind of international research I want to do for my capstone project,” Jessica said. “I'll also be working through the SEO-U Career virtual program to continue to prepare myself professionally and hopefully set myself up for a successful internship in the future.”